Evva Mizerska - cello expert

How to approach Etude Op. 31 No. 4 by Sebastian Lee

Learn Etude Op. 31 No. 4 by Lee for cello solo

In this video, Prof. Mizerska teaches you how to study and practice the Etude Op. 31 No. 4 by Sebastian Lee which helps to develop mixed staccato, spiccato and legato articulation on the cello.

Released on June 1, 2022

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello, and welcome to study challenge number five. Today, we are looking at study no. 4, opus 31 by Sebastian Lee. It is a slightly different study in a sense that is more of a concert piece and because of that, it looks at various elements of technique. It's not just concentrating on one, like the first study of our series was about, mainly first position and long slurs crossing the strings. The second study was a little bit more about short slurs and spiccatos, then there were long melody lines with various types of slides and then double stops.

Here we have a few elements combined together and I thought it would be nice piece to play after four lessons of the cycle, which were quite sort of directed at one particular problem at a time.

Now, we start here with long slurs, saving the bow, sustained, followed by staccato notes, then short slurs with marcato separate notes, and so on. Then we have also string crossing and preparing the left hand changes ahead of the bow and short spiccato notes. So let's have a little look at what comes where.

So to start with, long sustained slurs and do make sure when you start that you save your bow on the first note because you will need to use a little bit more on the quavers of the second bar where you have more notes to play. So do sustain the first note, use little bow to make sure that you have freedom of moving a little bit more in the second part. Then those staccato notes, they are really following the same role as we always have with the separate spiccato notes, and that means really prepared them very well on the string. So although they are not in one place, you don't... It's not sort of a returning staccato, but you have to... prepare every note the same way you do a normal staccato. So once again... So you basically stay on the string, the bow, you just sort of bite and let go as you move along.

Then we have short marcato slurs, so mainly concentrating the contact on the first note and then playing marcato, separate and light, a crochet on the third beat. Same here. Although they are not marked as spiccato or marcato, the separate notes, we do need to make them lighter, otherwise they will just musically sound too heavy. So preparing, and always preparing. Bite and let go. Then short slur... all those notes, spiccato. One little, last time I'm going to remind you, although those spiccato notes, they seem very light and off the string, they always start from the string. So you do need to find the time to get to your string a little bit sooner before you have to play them... like this and slow motion. So prepare, let go. Prepare, bite, and let go. But always before you play it, you have to land on the string a little bit sooner.

Now, musically, there are a few sort of melody lines here, and a few fragments from bar 16 of the up beat. You have slightly different character because of the harmony as well. You maybe want to play it a little bit more on the string, still those marcato notes, they are going to be quite light, but maybe not quite as short as in the previous fragment. So... again, because of the harmony is slightly minor in tonality, we want to play them a little bit longer, but still prepare and let it go. But rather than really short and off the string, I always personally stay on the string simply then let it go to make it a little bit lighter. So prepare, bite, let it go, but stay on the string...

Now in those slurs, do be careful when you cross the string... because you need to get there sooner with your left hand and connect your left hand finger one and four. This time it's going to be a little bit harder here... Always don't space notes. Again, light and marcato. That's more or less the material of the first half of the study.

Then from bars 52, with the up beat, we have a little connecting fragment. So from... marcato... We prepared everything of the theme in bar 63. Now that theme, after you've played, it is followed by a short coda, which is quite lovely. I wanted to play it to you, but before I do that, do pay attention to bars, especially from 89, where you have... So you need to make sure that first of all you don't use too much bow on your first slur. It's only three notes, but it's tempting to use more because you have to connect your notes well in the left hand, again, to prepare those changes, the left hand has to be ahead of the bow. But at the same time, you cannot really use too much, otherwise... You are going to end up in the second half of the bow for the separate notes, and then what are you going to do for the next note? It's going take you even further. So there is a chance of... running out of the bow at some point.

So you want to make sure that you use very little bow here... so that you can be in the same place for the slur and the separate notes. Again, think of starting well on the string and do connect, but at the same time sort of treat it half marcato, that slur. So after you've connected to that D string, you can let go. So once you reach the note E, you can sort of let go and play again with a little bit of a release. This will make sure that you'll use less bow and prepare... each of those spiccato notes. Same here... So, just by staying in the same place of the bow, you make sure that you can play it better.

Now I will play from bar 60 free to the end. I hope you will enjoy that study. I just wanted to say at the end that I personally love studies by Sebastian Lee and I'm hoping to introduce more of them to you. For a few years, he was solo cellist of the Paris opera. I think you can really feel that influence musically in his music. They are very operatic, even operetta-like. They're very light, very melodic and really a pleasure to play. So I hope you will feel the same way and you will find pleasure in practicing them...
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Halina * VSM MEMBER * on June 1, 2022 @11:42 am PST
Your videos and classes are awesome. Your comments and tips about what you teach are extremely useful. Thank you so much for helping me on my studies.
Evva - host, on June 1, 2022 @12:58 pm PST
Thank you very much, Halina, for your kindest comments, as always. I'm so happy you're finding the videos helpful. Sending you warmest wishes, Evva
Halina * VSM MEMBER * on June 1, 2022 @6:29 am PST
Unfortunately, the video is private and cannot be seen. I will look forward to see it. Thank you!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 1, 2022 @9:14 am PST
We are so sorry Halina, for some reason the video wasn't set to public before we sent out the Newseltter. Now it should be perfectly viewable. Please, let me know if you have any further questions or concerns. Happy playing!
Halina * VSM MEMBER * on June 1, 2022 @11:39 am PST
Thank you so much, Mr. Ferrari, for your kind attention. I just saw the video and, as the other ones, it is simply amazing. And also, with a great content. Thanks !
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 1, 2022 @12:29 pm PST
Thank you Halina! That's so much appreciated!

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